Sorry for the long post in advance and thank you so so much for reading.
It was hard. Let’s just start there.
I think the biggest thing that may get mentioned but definitely doesn’t get enough emphasis is you need need need PATIENCE. I spent so much time second guessing my skills, my journey, my time, my effort just because I read that it was possible, but forgot that it was only possible with time.
In saying that, here is a little bit about me, my journey, how I received the new job and how you can to!
I’ve been messing with HTML/CSS since about 2010, making small sites for a IT Repair business I used to work at. But I didn’t really make a jump for it until 2015 when I created a sites for a bigger client. That really gave me the confidence that I can do this and make a living, but even better, it reinforced how much I enjoyed doing it.
At the time of making that site, I wasn’t working and I needed money. Long story short, I started working with/for my father-in-law (FIL) who I lived with as well. I did termite inspections (crawling under raised houses, spraying for termites and checking for dry rot in wood on homes). I was getting $10/hr, 40hrs a week plus whatever my FIL wanted to give me under the table. When I was at home, I was basically my FILs personal assistant. Loved that guy. He passed away last summer and it was tough on my family and I. Luckily I got another job as a Help Desk Tech for a local hospital. On top of that we had to move out the following month as we could not afford to live at the home without the help of my FIL. So off to my brothers we went; my wife, son, daughter, and soon to be born daughter.
Things were tough.
My job was barely keeping us afloat. Thankfully my brother was very giving and let us stay with him
based on what we could afford. Even with his generosity I still felt that I had to do something to get us back on our feet. I knew I was going to go back to web development, but I didn’t know what my journey was going to look like.
Here’s how my journey went…
I came here to FCC back in 2016. My brother showed me. He became a front-end developer using it. He also went to a bootcamp in SF that taught HTML, CSS, Bootstrap, and a little JavasScript. He got a job about a month or so after completing the bootcamp. He told me, he wasted his money on the bootcamp and that he learned more from FCC than he did at his bootcamp, which was encouraging to me as I couldn’t afford going to one myself and I didn’t know of any other opportunities. I came back to FCC early this year and studied with in the little time I had available.
The hardest thing for me was finding time to study as I worked the graveyard shift, so I spent my day time sleeping. On top of that, I have a family which is where I have to put my focus and we just had the baby, helping my family deal with the loss of a loved one, so juggling all this plus studying was tricky. I have an amazing wife who let me study despite the fact that she needed help with the kids, she still gave me the time I needed. In those small study times, I crammed as much as I could in my brain before it would pop out of my ears.
Since I hadn’t used FCC for a while I went through it all again. I got to about the intermediate JS algorithms before swapping to other tutorials and lessons. I used Udemy for clarity as some in-depth tutorials were very thorough. I used the Web Developer Bootcamp by Colt Steele and Modern React with Redux by Stephen Grider.
I read tons of articles and tutorials and watched tons of YouTube videos:
and any others that appeared in my recommended.
I joined a group called Chingu.io. There I applied to be in a cohort which then worked on an 8-week
project that was in my skill range. It was an awesome experience. It’s mainly there to help give you team development experience. They provide you with info on working in dev teams and provided team best practices. You’re challenged to push your skills and ask that you allow yourself to get uncomfortable so you can learn more. The only accountability is your team relying on you to get things done. We ended up creating a dashboard that lets you check your local weather,
those who want to add team development experience on their resume. They always have cohorts
running and mostly everyone who applies gets in. Some people don’t stick around for the whole project
and they have been working on workarounds for people who don’t finish. I enjoyed it overall.
What really made things click was creating my own projects. It took what I learned and put it to use, plus I had to learn more to clear up anything I didn’t know. It was very very useful and if you really want to get a grasp on things, look up project ideas and just take the first step and code something. I procrastinated and didn’t take that first jump. But once I did, it was one of the best decisions I ever made.
Just so you know what I learned:
- Functional Programming
- Some Express.js
and some other random tidbits of things that aid in becoming a Front-end Developer.
I live in the US so some of this info may not work in other countries so as with all my advice, take it with a grain of salt and use it if you think it may work for you.
This was where my patience was really tested. You can only learn so much, but at the least you’re
learning, doing something. With searching for a job, you can only do a handful of things, then you have to wait… and wait… and wait, anticipating if all your effort even means anything.
It can be so draining. But it had to be done if I wanted to get a job.
Here’s the steps I took on my job search:
First thing is my resume. I watched a few videos on YouTube on how to build a proper one. Read a few
articles and looked at a few examples. What I learned is that you need to summarize who you are and what you do in a simple paragraph. It’ll help getting you noticed, just in case their HR team doesn’t have time to go through your resume.
Keep the resume to one page as best as you can. Only put recent jobs if they are relevant to the position you’re applying for. If you don’t have a relevant job, put your latest job and put the tasks you did in that position that are relevant to your desired position. Education should go towards the bottom. If you don’t have any prior professional experience, list your projects and links to them and maybe a very short summary as to what it does. On your general resume, don’t put a phone number unless they ask you for one. I wouldn’t recommend your address either. A city will do. Contact info can be given in an email, that way you can still stay a little private.
After the resume, I needed to learn about CVs (cover letters). I would make them custom to the job I was applying for. It is a very tedious process because you want to make sure that you mention the job requirements and how you meet them in the CV. I copied and pasted where I could but usually it was 4 short paragraphs.
I made sure my Github was up to date and my LinkedIn expressed my desire to work and learn. Invest
time in making sure your LinkedIn page looks good as businesses will definitely take notice. If you can
make a portfolio website, do it. I was working on one, but didn’t finish it before I got the job. It will be a
quick view of your skills and projects, your drive and experience.
Learn soft skills, meaning, learn how to speak clearly and confidently. Learn how to communicate effectively. Learn that you aren’t the only one on the team and that other’s opinions matter. Learn how to take criticism as you will receive a lot and you won’t learn anything if you think you need to defend your mistakes. These are small traits that shine in an interview and are what everyone wants from someone working with them.
Applying was pretty straight forward as most businesses just wanted resumes and CVs. At first I was
keeping track of all the places I applied to but I lost track. I remembered which ones but I stopped
writing them down. My advice here is to be picky as you probably don’t want to work in a place that sounds like it has a bad culture but also, be a little lenient as you may think you don’t qualify for a position when in fact you may be or they may be desperate and hire if you play your cards right. Some jobs seem like a dream come true, while others don’t. Some might seem out of your league, while others seem like the perfect fit or you may even be overqualified. Apply anyways. I didn’t have to apply to many myself, but I’ve heard other had to apply to hundreds. It’s partially a numbers game, partially luck. In my case it was God, but that’s another story.
Here are some other things to know:
- Be the first to apply to a position. Try to be at the top of the list. Jobs get posted to tons of places. When they find a good candidate, they’ll stop going through the pile. Be at the top so you can be that first good candidate.
- Be willing to be flexible. Some jobs are a distance from you, and some ask that you have experience in a different language or skill. Take a day and cram as much about that skill, or drive the extra distance if it means getting your foot in the door.
- YOU DON’T HAVE TO GO TO COLLEGE! If you did, great. If you want to, its not gonna hurt you your chances. But if you don’t want to go, or you want to but you don’t have the time and/or money don’t worry about college. Focus on getting your foot in the door first and if you want to advance your career, then think about college, but even then its not necessary.
The job I applied to asked for a college degree. When I talked to them on the phone, and during the interview, they were so impressed that they didn’t even mention it.
It is a long process, but enjoy the ride. There isn’t a magic number of tutorials you need to complete. There isn’t a specific resume style you need. Your portfolio doesn’t have to be the most amazing, gorgeous site, and your projects don’t have to be mind blowing.
I didn’t mention this earlier, but network online and at meetups. Even if you don’t get jobs out of it, you can learn a lot from people who may already be in the industry. I didn’t have the time to go to meetups, but if you can, do it.
There isn’t some magical trick to this. Its hard work, being prepared with the opportunity presents itself, a very little bit of luck.
YOU CAN DO IT!